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As Bill McKibben continues on his US #dothemath roadtrip, he joins Nnimmo Bassey & Pablo Solon to pen an Open Letter to leaders and climate negotiators at COP18 in Doha, Qatar, a letter which discusses the UN Report on the terrifying impact of the release of methane from melting permafrost on climate change.  The authors made the case that leaving fossil fuels under the soil is integral to adequately address runaway climate change.

Here is the letter in its entirety, released by 350 Mobile.


2012 saw the shocking melt of the Arctic, leading our greatest climatologist to declare a ‘planetary emergency,’ and it saw weather patterns wreck harvests around the world, raising food prices by 40% and causing family emergencies in poor households throughout the world.

That’s what happens with 0.8ºC of global warming. If we are going to stop this situation from getting worse, an array of institutions have explained this year precisely what we need to do: leave most of the carbon we know about in the ground and stop looking for more.

If we want a 50-50 chance of staying below two degrees, we have to leave 2/3 of the known reserves of coal and oil and gas underground; if we want an 80% chance, we have to leave 80% of those reserves  untouched. That’s not “environmentalist math” or some radical interpretation–that’s from the report of the International Energy Agency last month.

It means that–without dramatic global action to change our path–the end of the climate story is already written. There is no room for doubt–absent remarkable action, these fossil fuels will burn, and the temperature will climb creating a chain reaction of climate related natural disasters.

Negotiators should cease their face-saving, their endless bracketing and last minute cooking of texts and concentrate entirely on figuring out how to live within the carbon budget scientists set. We can’t emit more than 565 more gigatons of carbon before 2050, but at the current pace we’ll blow past that level in 15 years. If we want to have a chance to stick to this budget by 2020 we can’t send to the atmosphere more than 200 gigatons.

Rich countries who have poured most of the carbon into the atmosphere (especially the planet’s sole superpower) need to take the lead in emission reductions and the emerging economies have also to make commitments to reduce the exploitation of oil, coal and gas. The right to development should be understood as the obligation of the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, and not as a free ticket for a consumer and extractivist society that doesn’t take into account the limits of the planet and the wellbeing of all humans.

There’s no longer time for diplomatic delays. Most of the negotiators in the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) know that these are the facts. Now is the time to act for the future of humanity and Nature.

(Bill McKibben founder of, Nnimmo Bassey Environmental Rights Action & Coordinator of Oilwatch International, Pablo Solon Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, former Bolivian Ambassador to the UN and former chief negotiator for climate change).

UN Report referenced in letter:

UN: methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point

Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost

Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon – twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key "tipping points" that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called for the effect to be studied in detail by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of top climate scientists convened by the UN to provide governments with the most up-to-date and comprehensive knowledge on climate change. The next IPCC report will be published in several parts from next year.

Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said: "Permafrost is one of the keys to the planet's future because it contains large stores of frozen organic matter that, if thawed and released into the atmosphere, would amplify current global warming and propel us to a warmer world. Its potential impact on the climate, ecosystems and infrastructure has been neglected for too long."

Greenland surface melt measurements from three satellites on July 8 (left panel) and July 12 (right panel), 2012. Source:(NASA, 2012)
"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," (pdf) (eBook version) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.

OneWorld: For the best videos, updates,interviews and webcasts from Doha, TckTckTck and OneWorld track progress of COP18 ...

Today's highlights include Poland as COP19 host ... NGOs demand evidence of Polish leadership at COP18... Obama signs ETS bill on aviation

UN Highlights of Day 2 - official UN site presents information on daily news events from conference

Most Important Pie Chart You'll See Today: 13,950 Peer-Reviewed Scientific Articles on Earth's Climate

Is There Still a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming?
Back in 2005 (which is a loooong time ago in Internet time), Naomi Oreskes published a famous paper in Science titled "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change". It's a meta-study that looked at 928 scientific papers between 1993 and 2003 and concluded that, despite what the media often implied, there was a very strong consensus among scientists about climate change, with none of the papers disagreeing with consensus position.

Developing cities must protect against climate risks-(study by University College of London's Development and Planning Unit and the UK government's Department for International Development)

"Cities with the highest number of vulnerable people continue to remain in the largest cities in South Asia such as Kolkata, Mumbai, Karachi and Dhaka," the report said.

In those four cities, over 32 million people live in poverty which highlights the scale of the challenge.

To respond to risks, cities will have to work closely with national and regional government to strengthen their urban governance, planning, finance and services.

Policies which can reduce urban poverty and boost short-to- medium-term economic growth include improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure.

Policies such as urban agriculture, micro-generation, public transport information improvements and enhanced bus services are easy to implement and low cost.

Global climate talks timeline – interactive @ displaying how the global climate talks have progressed from 2005, when the Kyoto protocol became legally binding, to this year's negotiations

Oxfam: The Cost of Extreme Weather: If we don't act on climate change, the bill for dealing with extreme weather may be even higher.

Richard Klein , ( Stockholm Environment Institute, discusses why adaptation MUST be discussed at the UN climate talks

Note: Stay tuned for posts later today on #dothemath tour stops from figbash and others.

9:51 AM PT: COP19 in Warsaw, Poland

9:53 AM PT: Landscapes for Sustainable Development CIFOR blog

10:03 AM PT: Climate V Monitor ‏@ClimateVMonitor

MT @IFADnews The story of agriculture & climate change ahead of #COP18  what are the costs? http://

10:05 AM PT: Inter Press Service ‏@ipsnews

"Global Warming Goes to #Doha": Climate journo @StephenLeahy looks at #COP18 through the eyes of the phenomenon itself

10:04 AM PT: Abigail Fisher ‏@abisail

RT @debcastellana As US stonewalls climate progress at #COP18 #doha WA becomes 1st state to address #oceanacidification

12:28 PM PT: Check out the #Storify of "'#SheSparks!" Gender & Climate Innovation" #COP18

The Qatar COP

Livestreaming:Follow the talks

The most significant aspects on the Qatar COP agenda include:

•     Establishing a "second commitment period" for Kyoto which would extend from 2017 or 2020;
•     "Long-term cooperative action" (LCA) through 2020, such as on finance goals and the comparability of targets between industrialised countries not in Kyoto; and
•    The "Durban Platform" for a new legal agreement to take effect post-2020.

"The conference represents a choice between action now or a decade of delay, locking in potentially irreversible changes to the Earth's natural systems and devastation for vulnerable peoples everywhere," said Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate at Friends of the Earth EWNI.

Feature of the Day

Climate talks: More hot air about hot air?  AJE on Who bears historical responsibility for reducing the effects of climate change?



Delegates from 194 nations are gathering in Doha for the COP18 climate talks
    The conference takes place from November 26 to December 7
    UN climate change talks aim to curb gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020
    Developing nations say agreement on emission cuts relies on rich states
    Developing nations say rich states must make bigger cuts in emissions
    China is the world's biggest emitter of gases that trap the sun's heat
    The US, India and Russia are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters after China
    According to a UN report: CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen by 20 per cent since 2000
    Scientists say CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere causing the Earth to warm
    According to a UN report: there is an at least 66 per cent chance that changes in weather are man-made


UNFCCC Official Site- Watch Live & webcasts
Stakeholder Forum
IPS News from Doha Climate Talks
Follow the Talks on your iPhone
• Participate in the Talks with DecisionMakr
UNEP: The Emissions Gap Report 2012 (download report)


Two fundamental questions in the global climate negotiations include:

    Will the pledges made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions be sufficient to achieve the 2.0 degree or 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limits by year 2020 or will there be a gap between the level of ambition that is needed and what is expected as a result of the pledges?
    If a gap exists, in what ways can it bridged?

2:01 PM PT: US in Doha: We are the Motherfucking Bomb @EnvironRant

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.

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